Friday, June 4, 2010

Update on Finding Freedom's efforts to raise funds for humanitarian efforts in Guatemala

As you can see from the post below, the need is great in rural Guatemala following the ecological disasters of last weekend. Concerns for destroyed crops and the impact this will have on a country already ranked as having the highest rate of pediatric malnutrition in Central America are rising. However, the immediate need is for the more fundemental concerns of shelter, food and water.
Hugo's gratitude and his latest report on his efforts is below. In light of the need he writes of, FFF will continue our fundraising efforts through the next week, and we will reassess the need then.
Thank you to all who sent checks on his behalf last week. I was able to send $500 in cash to be hand-carried to him today. We have great supporters!

A report from Hugo (First-responder in humanitarian crisis in Guatemala)

Hola Jody.
I really want to thank you for all that you have been doing for all this
people from Pacaya volcano area.
We were there yesterday and today and it is really sad  to see many
families getting back to their properties and facing all the

We headed out of Antigua this morning with two truckloads of supplies
for the people living in the shadow of the Pacaya volcano. Our goal was
to try and get some basic supplies to areas that have not received any
assistance. Our supplies consisted of heavy plastic sheeting (to repair
roofs), water filters, corn flour, toilet paper and diapers (no water
means no way to clean cloth diapers). Local leaders had been asking for
these to address basic shelter, food and sanitation needs.

The road into this area was difficult even for our 4x4 trucks, with
boulders, mud and giant tree limbs all about us. As we approached the
area, the impact of the volcanic eruption became increasingly evident.
Initially we saw roofs that had collapsed from the weight of the ash and
rain. Then we started to see roofs that still stood, but the reason was
that they had been filled with thousands of holes from the flaming
volcanic rocks that fell from the sky. One family told us how they hid
under a table as the metal roof of their house was shredded by the
falling rocks. Another group told us how they sheltered in a school with
a concrete roof, but suffered oven like temperatures without water for
hours as the surrounding area was covered with the flaming rocks that
fell around them. These communities survived volcanic hail ranging in
size from a raisin to a baseball for hours… it was amazing that they
lived through it.

One thing that has clearly not survived are the local crops. Corn fields
that were almost ready to harvest were shredded by the falling rock.
Trees stand leafless with volcanic rock stuck in their limbs. The ground
is so thick with volcanic rock that all one sees is a dark landscape,
void of anything remotely resembling green. A soccer field that
previously looked like a green meadow, now looks as if it has been paved
over with asphalt. These people survive on what they can grow and now
they have lost this ability along with their homes.

As we distributed our supplies we saw how remarkable these people are.
We were greeted warmly wherever we stopped to make a distribution.
Though people were thirsty, hungry and tired, they took each donation
with gratitude and dignity. We obviously did not have enough to satisfy
the immense needs of this area, but we truly felt the positive impact
these donations made. These people are strong in body and mind and with
our support they can rebuild their lives and communities.

I would like to send a huge “Thank you!” for your emails of support and
offers to help me pay for supplies. So far I have been financing this
effort myself along with a few donations from families here in Antigua.
If you would like to help, please use this website to make a
contribution using a credit card
( At the final checkout step,
please put my name in the “Add special instructions to seller” field so
that your help will be sent my way. If you would like to send a check,
please make it payable to Hugo Suarez and mail it to 5a Calle Poniente
#20, Antigua Guatemala S.A.


Hugo Suarez